by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell
I was scrolling through my Snapchat memories today and came across a picture of myself that gave me pause. In it, I’m smiling, a finger poked into my cheek. My tongue is stuck out and my eyes are closed. A goofy filter adds devil horns and oversized glasses to my face. It’s a pretty normal selfie of a happy 20-year-old.
That said, a few words in the caption reveal it wasn’t just a picture. “So, I’m bald now! Here’s the cut!”
My head is shaved down close to the skin in the photo. It was the first picture I took of myself after that drastic haircut. I still remember the mindframe I was in at the time: straight-up panic and self-loathing.
I’d had a floppy bleach-blonde mohawk that I loved. I’d shaved it all off in a moment of what I fondly refer to as “crazy manic idiocy.” It was a snap decision. I’d wanted to do something new with my hair for a while, and it seemed like the best thing in the moment.
Now, I’d pulled off a mohawk very well. The sides and back of my head were shaved, I thought, so it wouldn’t be that different, right? Oh, so wrong. Some people can pull off a shaved head. It looks fantastic on them! I cannot. I looked like an egg. And much more importantly, I felt crushed.
I’ve never attached much of my self-worth to my looks, but that haircut began the most self-conscious year of my life. I never never without a hat. I had an arsenal of self-deprecating jokes at the ready. I literally stopped looking in the mirror. It shook me in a way I didn’t expect. I wish I had taken the time to truly think about my drastic haircut before going with it.
“Hair grows back, Julien,” my fiancee kept reminding me. “Just give it time.”
And eventually, my hair did grow back. It’s now a shaggy blonde mop — a little overgrown, a little wild, just how I like it. It took a few disastrous trims, a short-lived (and regrettable) mullet, and a lot of patience, but eventually, my hair grew out. And my friends didn’t stop being my friends because of a bad haircut. My fiancee wasn’t suddenly disgusted by me. My family didn’t shun me. That’s insane. In this year of regrowth, I think I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person:
— I do care about how I look. I lied to myself and said that I didn’t for years because I’m not conventionally attractive. But I do. I want to look good and love how I look. I want to feel confident when I walk down the street. And that’s okay! It didn’t make me (or anyone!) vain or shallow.
— On the other side of that coin, no one but me really cares about how I look. The haircut didn’t affect anything in my life except my own self-confidence.
— Hair is impermanent and doesn’t define your entire look!
— Beanies and baseball caps are a great accessory and shouldn’t be underestimated!
— And last but not least, it’s alright to have a bad haircut! And it’s alright to admit that it just doesn’t suit you! There is bravery in being honest.